Drafting running backs in the first three rounds has almost become a rule in fantasy football. With the amount of workhorse running backs dwindling in the NFL, it is important to draft as many as you can when they are available. However, drafting a bad running back early on can really hurt your fantasy team, as you missing on a running back means there’s a good chance your competition is getting somebody good. These are some early-round running backs to target during your fantasy draft.
Running Backs to Target in the Early Rounds of Fantasy Football Drafts
Nick Chubb is coming off another stellar campaign in which he posted a 1,000-yard season in only 12 games played. Those four games Chubb missed last year were the only games he has missed in his three-year career, so that shouldn’t be a deterrent. Chubb has never averaged below five yards per carry in his career, including a fantastic 5.6 yards per carry average last year. The Cleveland Browns have one of the better offensive lines in the league, and since they have one of the best rosters in all of football, they should be leading most games.
Teams that are ahead in football will run the ball more often than not, so this should benefit Chubb even more. Despite Kareem Hunt‘s presence as a high-end backup, Chubb is a safe first-round running back that is being undervalued in drafts.
The Antonio Gibson hype train is in full swing and it’s time to hop on before the fantasy community catches up. Gibson had a solid 4.7 yards per carry average and 11 rushing touchdowns as a rookie. While he only had 170 rushing attempts last year, the good news is that the Washington Football Team should be better on offense this year. New additions at quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and receiver (Curtis Samuel) improve Gibson’s chances of staying on the field.
The only other running back options on the Football Team are Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic, meaning Gibson could find his way into a three-down role sometime during the season. Currently projected as the 16th best running back on ESPN, Gibson has RB1 upside if everything goes right for him.
Chris Carson isn’t the flashiest pick in fantasy football drafts, yet he is always productive when healthy. After posting two straight 1,000 yard seasons, Carson had a down year in 2020 due to injuries (12 games played) and a more pass-heavy Seattle Seahawks offense. However, the Seahawks fired their offensive coordinator after their offense was a disaster at the end of last year.
New Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron and Pete Carroll both want to establish the run more this season to have a more balanced attack. In other words, Carson should have a bounce-back season as long as he can stay healthy. He is somebody to target in the “second-tier” of running backs.
After his incredible 2019 season in which he had 92 receptions for 993 yards, Austin Ekeler‘s 2020 was hampered by injuries. Like Carson, the good news for him is that the old coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers is gone and the new coaching group makes Ekeler’s outlook promising. New Charger’s offensive boss Joe Lombardi came over from the New Orleans Saints, where he helped turn Alvin Kamara, a similar type of running back, into a top-five fantasy player.
With sophomore quarterback, Justin Herbert poised to take another step forward and little competition behind him, Ekeler is going to be a stud in points per reception formats.
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